Mark Cavendish sprints into yellow after winning opening stage of 2016 Tour de France

Mark Cavendish claimed victory on stage one of the Tour de France, after out-sprinting rivals Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan

Mark Cavendish sprints into yellow after winning opening stage of 2016 Tour de France
Mark Cavendish celebrates after winning the opening stage (image via: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters)

Mark Cavendish completed an excellent sprint finish to claim victory and the yellow jersey following stage one of the 2016 Tour de France into Utah Beach

'The Manx Missile' came from nowhere in the final moments to overtake sprint rivals Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan close to the line, grabbing his 27th stage victory at the world's greatest bike race, moving him one behind the legendary Bernard Hinault

An already sparkling career has another moment to savour for Cav, who will be the proud owner of the maillot jaune going into tomorrow's stage, for the first time in his career. 

Howes and Delaplace forge breakaway, as Contador suffers needless crash

As expected, the first stage ended with a bunch sprint, after the peloton reeled in the breakaway during the final 10km's of the day's racing. 

Setting off from the iconic Mont-Saint-Michel to get the 103rd running of the Tour de France underway, the early stages saw Paul Voss of Bora-Argon claim the opening King of the Mountains point on offer, meaning he will be in the polka-dot jersey during tomorrow's stage. 

The 2016 Tour de France gets underway (image via: newsclip.com)

The peloton then reformed, before Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac) and Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) formed a breakaway which stuck for most of the stage, with the peloton always in chasing distance. 

Around the 100km mark, one of the big names in the race suffered a crash, in the form of two-time winner Alberto Contador from team Tinkoff. Contador is not averse to a crash in France, and he will be ruing his luck, depsite not losing any time to his rivals in the overall classification. 

Cav grabs maiden yellow jersey following epic sprint 

The pace really began to pick-up around the 20km to go mark, with the sprint teams pushing towards the front in a move which would help them gain position for the difficult finish. 

Howes and Delaplace were finally caught with around 7km left, with the sprint trains then taking command of the race. 

After the riders went under the Flame Rouge (1km to go), a disastrous crash occurred just behind the front of the race which splintered the peloton, and created a group of around 20 riders out in front. 

From there, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) made a move in his world champion jersey which looked to have secured him victory, before the powerful German Marcel Kittel of Etixx-Quick Step came up on his inside. 

Then, from nowhere popped out Cavendish, and the Team Dimension Data man soared past his rivals to claim an astonishing victory, and one of the most memorable of his career. If anything he was moving further ahead of Kittel and company as he crossed the line, laying down a marker for the sprint stages ahead of the next few weeks. 

Stage two kicks off in Saint-Lô, taking in three four-category climbs early in the day, before finishing in a summit finish atop the Côte de La Glacerie for the first time in Tour history.